‘Empire of Light’ Stumbles Over Racism, Relationship Woes

Director Sam Mendes’ ode to cinema forgets what makes a good film in the first place.

The ‘80s drama drowns in racial unrest, offers a wildly improbable romance and squeezes in a few valentines to the cinematic experience.

Tell that to Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, whose performances are so on point you sometimes forget what a mess Mendes made.

Colman stars as Hillary, the manager of a British movie house circa late 1980. The theater itself is a marvel, a magnificently appointed affair that’s been drummed out of existence in the 21st century, alas.

It’s still here in all its splendor, captured via cinematographer Roger Deakins, as good a craftsman as Hollywood has at the moment.

Hilary is a conscientious worker, but she’s stuck in a one-sided affair with her boss (Colin...

Proper Review
Dec 9th 2022
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